Singapore silver vault set to meet strong Asian demand

SINGAPORE, July 29 Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:35am EDT

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SINGAPORE, July 29 (Reuters) - Precious metals storage firm Malca-Amit will open a new facility in Singapore this week that can hold up to 200 tonnes of silver, and plans to add more capacity to meet growing demand for the metal in Asia.

Silver prices have fallen 35 percent this year and are trading near three-year lows, caught up in a 20-percent slide in the price of gold on fears of an end to easy central bank money.

Silver has long been a favorite of retail investors and speculators who want to gain cheap exposure to precious metals. Gold is currently 67 times more expensive than silver.

The Singapore vault will be Malca-Amit's biggest silver facility, and is about 30 percent booked.

"Our core business is gold. But in order to accommodate the growing demand for silver, we decided to open this dedicated depository," Joshua Rotbart, general manager at Malca-Amit's precious metals business, told Reuters.

Hong Kong-based Malca-Amit provides logistics and storage facilities for precious metals, diamonds, fine arts and other luxury items.

The company is also looking to open a silver-storage facility in Hong Kong to meet demand from individual clients and bullion dealers, Rotbart said.

"We are still exploring our options for a silver depository in Hong Kong and we may utilize our existing facility. At this point we are focusing on leveraging our facilities in Bangkok, Hong Kong and China," he said.

Malca-Amit is boosting its Asian storage facilities and has nearly completed a vault in Shanghai for precious metals, diamonds and other luxury items. Its gold vaults in Hong Kong and Singapore can hold 1,000 tonnes each.

"Gold demand is on the rise. Both from financial institutions and high net worth individuals who are looking for long-term storage solutions," said Rotbart, citing Singapore and Hong Kong as the main destinations in Asia.

Deutsche Bank last month launched its second-biggest gold-storage vault in Singapore with a capacity of 200 tonnes. (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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